Photo: The significance of Obidos at Amazon.com

One of the Amazon Lockers now located at the company’s South Lake Union headquarters in Seattle.

We’ve been having fun covering Amazon.com’s ambitious locker effort — including Todd Bishop’s experiment to pick up a pack of batteries at a Seattle area 7-Eleven store. Since then, Amazon Lockers have been popping up at various locations around the country, including at the company’s ever-expanding headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle. 

It’s interesting how Amazon is giving names to inanimate objects, a nod to a sci-fi world that the retailer sees ahead in which devices interact with us?

That’s why I was intrigued the other day after stumbling upon the bright-orange locker system (being used in fact) at a building on the Amazon.com campus. What struck me was that the contraption actually had a name, an unusual one.

Obidos.

At first, I didn’t know why Amazon chose that moniker, but a little research turns up some details.

Geography lovers will know that Obidos is a town in Brazil, a place where the Amazon river is at its narrowest and swiftest point.

But the significance goes much deeper at Amazon.com. According to a reference page on Wikipedia, Obidos was the name of the company’s original page rendering engine, with the word appearing in URLs like this one. Obidos was apparently phased out on August 31, 2006, replaced by what is known as the Gurupa engine. (Bonus point for anyone who knows the significance of Gurupa in Amazon lore). As a nod to its history, Amazon named the building at 550 Terry Avenue North Obidos.

Buildings on Amazon.com’s campus have other significance, such as Day One North. That’s a reference to how founder Jeff Bezos famously signs his annual letter to shareholders, declaring: “It’s still day 1.” 

By the way, here’s that video of GeekWire’s Todd Bishop testing out one of the early incarnations of Amazon Lockers in October 2011.

  • http://blog.daryn.net daryn

    Come do a walking tour of campus sometime – each building has a plaque in the lobby explaining the origin of its name.

    Ruby is -not- named after the programming language :)

    • johnhcook

      Very cool. Didn’t know that. I’d love to do a walking tour. Are you offering to be the guide Daryn?

      • geekwirefan

        They are naming all their lockers. You can see their names when searching for lockers on Amazon.com

      • http://blog.daryn.net daryn

        Of course, any time for you, John :)

  • Guest

    John, Amazon is naming all its lockers. The names are Dahlia, Obidos, Ruby, Arizona, Triton, Caldera, Pearl, Aurora, Juno, Hydra, Milo, Zeus, … You can check them out when you search for amazon lockers on their webpage.

    • Another Guest

      Times have changed. I left Amazon in 2007 and only recognize the significance of Obidos and Arizona

  • ranjanxroy

    Locker in NYC I used the other day was called: Gantin, only reference I could find was: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardin_Gantin. Yes, I’m a big enough Amazon fanboy that I am still wondering what the significance of that one was

  • Guest

    “As a nod to its history, Amazon named the building at 550 Terry Avenue North Obidos.” This is the building you are in, which is why the locker is labeled as such. Same with “Arizona” and “Ruby”